Bryan Cohen Mar. 27, 2013, 6:09pm

BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a $20,000 settlement on Tuesday with a Worcester housing complex and its property management company to resolve allegations of disability-based housing discrimination.

Federal Square Condominium Trust, the owner of a 76-unit condominium complex, and Alpine Property Management, Federal Square's property management company, allegedly failed to respond to a tenant's requests to make the building accessible to wheelchairs. The tenant requested that the defendants install a ramp or fix the often-malfunctioning elevators. After the alleged failure to respond, the tenant and her disabled partner were forced to move out of the building.

"Massachusetts law requires landlords to communicate with and provide reasonable accommodations for their tenants with disabilities," Coakley said. "Landlords must meet their obligations under the law in a timely manner especially when it comes to tenants who have every right to safe access to their own home."

Under the terms of an assurance of discontinuance, Federal Square and Alpine must pay $20,000, including $16,500 to the tenant and $3,500 to the state. Alpine must also implement new policies to make sure it responds properly to future requests for reasonable accommodations within 15 business days, maintain a written log of all requests, maintain the elevators at the Federal Square Condominiums in full working condition and require all of its employees to attend training on state and federal fair housing laws.

Massachusetts law requires that property owners or managers take steps to communicate with a tenant to identify whether or not a request for a disability accommodation is a reasonable request. The owner or manager may ultimately deny the request, but there must be an interactive process after the request is made.

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